Lawmakers OK bill keeping school buses on the road

March 18, 2014
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Legislators delivered a temporary reprieve to Westfield Washington Schools and other cash-strapped districts facing steep losses in their transportation budgets.

But the final version of House Bill 1062, approved by both chambers last week with just one no vote, did not include a Senate amendment that also would have allowed some schools to test the market for school-bus advertising.

“We would have explored options, had we been part of the pilot, but it came up so quickly that we really hadn't even started to look into options,” said Mark Keen, Westfield Washington’s superintendent.

As IBJ reported in January, Westfield Washington is one of nearly 60 school districts across the state that stand to lose at least 20 percent of the tax revenue collected for transportation, bus replacement and capital because of so-called protected levy legislation intended to make sure they pay their debt.

Westfield Washington, which stood to lose 91 percent of its transportation funding, notified the state Department of Education last year that it would stop transporting students to school in 2016 unless the situation was resolved.

The legislative fix, which is still awaiting Gov. Mike Pence’s signature, lets districts spread their tax-cap losses over several funds rather than requiring that debt-service accounts remain whole. It applies to districts facing losses of 10 percent or more—about 90 statewide.

It’s just a stop-gap measure, stemming the schools’ losses for three years, but officials say it helps.

“This gives us more time to avoid the loss, and we will continue to work with legislators for a permanent fix,” said Mike Reuter, chief financial officer of Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Fishers.

HSE, Westfield, Noblesville and Zionsville schools are affected by the legislation. Carmel, Sheridan and Hamilton Heights schools all fell under the 10-percent threshold.

“In three years, if we get the growth that we expect, we will still be impacted, but to a much lesser degree,” Westfield’s Keen said.

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  • Sad
    Frankly I think it is sad that we potentially have to turn our children's transportation to school into an advertisement opportunity in order to afford it. I can't wait until we have Lucas Oil High School because we don't see education as the priority that it is.

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  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

  3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

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